Chen May Yee swapped life as a foreign correspondent in Asia for domesticity in Minneapolis, where she lives with preschooler Maya, kindergartener Zoe and husband Chris, a stay-at-home dad. She writes about healthcare at the Star Tribune and hankers after warmer climates.
Kay Krhin makes daily attempts to balance doing more with less and less with more at work and home, more or less. She is married to multi-faceted modern man Peter and is a slightly seasoned mother to preschooler Ben and toddler Vivian.
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It's January. That means Kindergarten registration time is upon us. A time that seemed so far away when I was holding my baby in my arms and in a blur here we are.
Do you remember that book by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ?
All I really need to know is this: How do you prepare to actually send your kids away to kindergarten?
I'm a virtual knot of mixed feelings about this major milestone on so many levels.
First, of course, there's the emotional level. It will be yet another parenting exercise in letting go. Friends have told us "Just wait until the first day of kindergarten when he walks away from you down that big hallway with his backpack on. Or wait until he gets on the school bus for the first time." Daggers in the heart. Your little baby is officially growing up and becoming more independent.
But on the flip side I'm so excited for him. He is so eager and anxious to learn more and more every day. He's ready to take his education to the next level.
Then there is the complexity of figuring out how we are going to juggle our schedules to send our son to kindergarten and our daughter to part-time daycare and pre-school. My husband and I have been working staggered schedules since Ben was born almost 5 years ago. We knew there would be sacrifices and until recently we didn't have one day together as a family. We made it work, we've been able to spend plenty of time with the kids and save money too. But we'd always thought the school years would bring a light at the end of the tunnel.
We imagined when the kids got to grade school it would solve all of our creative scheduling and finances right? We had aspirations of a world where we'd both work a basic 5 day week while the kids were at school. A world where we'd have entire evenings and weekends off as a family. We thought wistfully "Just think, we'll have all of this time together and really start socking away the daycare savings for college. "
Here's my naive news flash. Full-day Kindergarten costs money, at least in our district. Plus you need to factor in that the school day ends mid-afternoon and you need to pay for after school care, if necessary, on top of the full day kindergarten. So it brings me to the question full-day or half-day? Full-day K is more expensive and half-day K , although free, brings along even more scheduling issues along with child care costs.
I know I'm not the only one in this boat. Many Cribsheet readers have kids the same age. Many are heading to kindergarten this fall. I've been commiserating with longtime reader, Darcie from gustgab on the topic. She touched on the subject with her post: Already?
We have been going cross-eyed crunching numbers and child care options figuring out our potential scenarios come September. It is like a big game of Tetris in my brain trying to find just the right fit.
I have been writing down all of our different options for our work schedules and our school and child care choices. The options involved various iterations of baton parenting, working more evenings or perhaps enrolling our daughter in a preschool program connected with the grade school Ben enrolls in. But that option, although convenient, would end up with child care costs exceeding our mortgage. Ouch. Grandparents are you reading this? Would you like to move to the Twin Cities? :)
Kindergarten. I wasn't expecting it to be so complicated.
It's all a bit overwhelming.I know we have many months to finalize the grand design that works best for our family, and most importantly what works best for our children. A co-worker assured me, "Don't worry, it all works out somehow, someway, you just figure it out."
I just want to hear from other readers - how do you make it work?"